We’ll make it up on volume

Suzy plays Pacman

They must be passing out unusually strong stupid pills to our politicians lately because they’re falling all over themselves being even dumber than normal. Check out Maine’s Republican Senator Susan Collins, questioning Amtraks’ president, Joseph Boardman. Boardman has just explained that, while the Northeast corridor is profitable, the system as a whole loses money on each passenger because of its congressionally – mandated routes to nowhere. Collins is befuddled at the news that ridership and losses are both up:

“I don’t understand how you can be serving more passengers than ever before while losing more money”, she said, no doubt with furrowed brow.

The depressing thing about this story is that Collins is a senator – not a very bright one, admittedly, but a senator all the same, and she can’t grasp the concept that, if you lose money on each customer you can’t make it up on volume. For god’s sake, that was the punchline of a joke old when I was just ten years. Senator Collins and her colleagues wouldn’t have gotten the joke then and still don’t today. God spare us.


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6 responses to “We’ll make it up on volume

  1. Most politicians are just glad-handing idiots. Intelligence and elective government service are not compatible. Inagua, flattering me (I think) the other day in the comments section of an earlier post, got me onto a search that yielded the following gem:

    “In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.”
    -Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

    Truer today than the day it was first coined.

  2. Inagua

    LA – It was flattery. I had mis-remebered it as: intelligence – someone who agrees with me. And you are intelligent, even though you want to perpetuate subsidies to rich geezers in the mistaken belief that they are putting it to the government, when the geezers are really putting it to other taxpayers.

    Most of our leaders are ignorant of basic economics, and this has been true since the founding. But every so often, frequently when most needed, a Hamilton, a Mellon, a Volker, or a Reagan appear to reset things in a better direction. Unfortunately we are currently in Year Four of what I fear will be a 20-period of very poor economic performance. Bush, Bernanke, and Obama have done at least as much damage to the economy as LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Arthur Burns, and G. William Miller did.

    I often fantasise how different everything would have been if Goldwater had won in 1964 and Milton Friedman had become Fed Chairman.

    PS – I am glad you enjoy Bierce. He is one of my favorites.

  3. Reader

    Amtrak has extended service to Brunswick, ME. I suspect they could give each of their few riders a new Bentley to make the trip and it would cost the taxpayers less. Now I realize that it is Sen Collins, pushing her state’s parochial interests, who is responsible for that folly.

    Amtrak is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Cumulative losses are about $50B.

    Thanks Senator Collins.

  4. Riverslide

    Well that means we’ve lost only $1.2 billion per year, which is less than half what we give Pakistan, our faux allies… so it is really not the first place to look for cuts.

  5. meridenite

    I blame Gengras if he hadn’t spilled the beans on the NYNH&H we never would have had amtrak.

  6. Old School Grump

    I think the Boston-Portland route has been a huge success in terms of ridership, although I know that ridership doesn’t necessarily mean profits (hey, I’m NOT a senator). But Portland to Brunswick? I forget if it’s an Air Force base or a Naval base that is closing in Brunswick, but whatever it is, it’s gone. Which leaves … a bunch of Bowdoin students as customers.